The next project I tackled for Sandy’s retirement party was closely related to the chalkboard that I made. I had seen a few homemade dry erase boards on various blogs that were so ridiculously easy that I had to try one. I knew I’d be refinishing a frame for the chalkboard anyway, so I decided to do a picture frame dry erase board at the same time, since I would have to clean the brushes anyway.
During our jaunt to the thrift stores of Clintonville, my friend and I walked away with three frames that could potentially work for the projects. (The third, unused frame will just have to wait for a makeover another time.) This frame was nothing particularly special at the time, not real wood and a little banged up, so I got it fairly cheaply. (Again, if anyone wants this super-cool fishing poster, it’s yours, let me know.) You really can take this sort of project on with some less-than-spectacular materials and turn them into something awesome.
Taking this frame apart, I was pleased to see that it had real glass instead of plexiglass. I’d read that both work with this project well, but I found the idea of real glass to be more appealing. I would have liked to roughen up the surface to take the paint better, but the black of this frame is almost papery (over particle board, not real wood), so I was afraid I’d tear it up a little and it wouldn’t look good.
Again, I primed the frame so everything would adhere a little better and I’d have a good base to paint on top of. I was also concerned that the dark color of the frame would take way too many layers of the “good” paint if I didn’t prime first.
Again, when I painted the white over the primer, I taped the corners off along the diagonal where the two sides met, so I could keep the brush strokes clean. You can see from the picture a little more of the problem I had when I primed, how the strokes from one direction would cross over the strokes from the other direction and make it look messy. This shows the clean line I got from the painter’s tape, so the strokes wouldn’t cross on the finished surface. This was important to me, because I thought the glazed finish would highlight the brush strokes.
The next step was the tinted glaze. Again, I used 4 parts of the Behr Premium Plus Faux Glaze to 1 part colored paint to get the tint. I measured maybe 4 Tablespoons of the glaze, but I’d prepare a smaller amount next time (while still keeping the same ratio), because I ended up with a lot left over after I brushed the glaze on both frames.
I brushed the tinted glaze on the frame and let it sit on the surface for about 30 seconds before wiping it down with a rag. There was less detail to the frame for this project than for the chalkboard, so the glaze is more apparent the brushstrokes and somewhat heavy along the edges.
And now, a step that is totally different from anything I did for the chalkboard project! (And here’s where it gets stupidly easy. If you’ve already got a great frame to use that doesn’t need refinishing, I’m pretty sure you can finish this project under 10 minutes.) I bought some beautiful striped fabric from Sew to Speak, a fabric store that my friend and I stumbled across and are now kind of in love with. I chose something with light colors, that wouldn’t be too busy and didn’t have a lot of contrast within the pattern, so as not to compete with the dry erase markers when you used the board. As a bonus, the stripes were kind of perfect for a project like this, because they give you a nice line to write along. I laid the fabric out on our dining room table and cut the it about an inch or so beyond the edge of the cardboard backing that came with the frame.
I ironed out the fabric, and then used painters tape to secure the edges of the fabric which I folded over the cardboard. For the corners, I folded the fabric like I was wrapping a present and it came out well, but with a bulkier fabric, you may need to trim some of the excess before securing with tape. In doing this project again, I would have gone a little longer on the iron, as there was a slight crease when I reassembled, but I decided to let it go rather than untape everything and start again. I also would put white paper (maybe the back side of wrapping paper, as the back side of the poster that came with the frame had a big numbered sticker on it) over the cardboard, as the fabric was thin enough for a bit of the brown color to come through. All in all, I was pretty satisfied with the end product, I just would have tweaked those things had I realized them a little earlier in the process.
Because I’m a giant nerd, I wanted to have a matching eraser for the boards. Tim got this felt eraser from Target which said it was good for chalkboards and dry erase boards and I decided to pretty it up a little. I cut a square of fabric long enough to wrap around the sides of the eraser and spread a thin layer of Mod Podge all over the hard plastic part of the eraser and wrapped the fabric over it, smoothing the sides and folding the ends like a present to get the corners nice and neat. I trimmed the sides where I had cut it a little long and it was hanging over the felt part and squeezed a thin bead of Fray Check along the edges of the fabric to keep the threads neat and together. I spread another thin layer of Mod Podge on the short ends of the eraser, saturating where the fabric was folded, to help adhere it a little better.
At the party, I set up the dry erase board on a small table in the corner of the dining room and encouraged people to make a “to do list” for Sandy, filled with lovely things to occupy her time in retirement. People seemed to like thinking up silly and sincere things to write, and by the end of the party, the board was full. This kind of activity could be adapted to lots of different party settings (New Years’ resolutions, favorite things about the Fourth of July), and I liked that I was creating a piece to leave behind for Sandy to use.
So there you have it, the super-easy dry erase frame. I am tempted to go up to our stash of empty frames in the loft and commandeer one for use as a dry erase board in my office, since I have leftover striped fabric, and writing daily to-do lists on such a pretty piece will make my work more pleasant. There are lots of ways to vary this project as well! You could use any appropriate fabric that is low-contrast and light enough to work with dry erase markers, wrapping paper or other patterned craft paper, or even a picture with an area large enough to write in (like maybe a beach scene that is 3/4s sky or a snowy field). I’ve seen people use mirrors as dry erase boards as well. It’s so easy, you could have places for notes all over your house.